Originally posted on SPORTS by BROOKS  |  Last updated 2/25/12

Immediately after Craig James announced last December that he had decided to run for statewide political office in Texas, SbB reported via multiple sources that James was not likely to return as an ESPN college football announcer for the 2012 season.

In a brief statement to SbB today, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz essentially eliminated the prospect of James returning to the network.

ESPN’s Krulewitz: “We have no intention of bringing Craig James back in the future.”

Thus ends the second tenure of James at ESPN, which began in 2003. James, whose ESPN contract expires before the 2012 football season, also worked for ESPN in the early ’90s following his NFL playing career.

Today’s ESPN announcement comes as the network prepares to defend itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by Mike Leach against the network last November. The lawsuit also targets James and Dallas-based public relations firm Spaeth Communications by name.

While ESPN, obviously, will not confirm that the now-official departure of James from the network was related to the Leach litigation, it isn’t unreasonable to think that it may have been a factor.

That isn’t necessarily a given though, considering that Leach’s lawsuit, filed against ESPN and James on Nov. 24, 2010, did not deter ESPN from having James work the 2011 season for the network.

Krulewitz also told SbB today that any comments recently made by James on the U.S. Senate campaign trail in Texas, including his recent comments addressing gays, were unrelated to the timing of today’s statement. (Which was in response to an SbB query on the subject earlier this week.)

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

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